Welcome to the Blackrock Dental advice centre where you can find a range of resources covering general dentistry and common queries. Please read the sections of interest and contact us if you have any further questions. We are open and honest in dealing with patients’ concerns, so please do not hesitate to make an appointment with our team.
It is easy to gain optimal dental and gum health. The first step is developing a good at-home routine of brushing and cleaning between your teeth. In terms of professional care, it is important to visit your dentist once a year to ensure that your mouth is free from any decay, gum disease or other oral conditions. In addition, visit your hygienist for a deep gum cleaning and to receive tailored advice on keeping your gums healthy.
We recommend that you brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Brush for two minutes. Make sure to brush all tooth surfaces and don’t forget your tongue!
In general, a small head medium bristle brush is suitable for most patients. If you have gum recession or sensitive teeth, we recommend a soft bristle brush. If you would like to choose an electric toothbrush, we advise one that has a rotating round brush head as these have be shown to clean teeth better than any other type of brush.
Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline
Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-andforth strokes
Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen mouth
Cleaning between your teeth
Many people are good at brushing the visible surfaces of their teeth but this is only half way to making your smile sparkle. Food and plaque that gets stuck between your teeth will cause inflammation of the gums, tooth decay and may lead to bone loss around your teeth.
We recommend that you clean the interdental areas between your teeth after you brush each night. We recommend the use of TePe brushes or floss. TePe brushes are our first preference but the choice for individual patients comes down to personal preference and the arrangement of your teeth.
Generally, if you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and spit don’t rinse, you do not need to use mouthwash after. The fluoride foam in your mouth left over from the toothpaste is effective enough.
However, for patients who find it difficult to brush effectively – such as those with arthritis – or those who suffer from dry mouth or high levels of decay, using mouthwash can be a useful extra in your at-home regimen. There are so many different options out there, and the choice can be confusing.
If you are choosing a mouthwash, we recommend that you choose an alcohol-free fluoride-containing type. Examples include Listerine zero or Colgate Plax alcohol free.
Use the mouthwash after meals when you are out and about to flush away food particles in your mouth.
For patients with periodontal disease or who have a dental infection, we may prescribe a chlorhexidine mouthwash, such as Corsodyl or Kin. These therapeutic rinses should be used for the prescribed time only as if used for too long can lead to bacterial resistance and will no longer be effective.
Sugar and decay
Over the course of the day plaque builds up on the teeth like a sticky film. This plaque becomes colonized by millions of bacteria. The bacteria in plaque break down sugars into acid. If not cleaned away, these bacteria and the acid they produce will lead to decay. The more sugar that is fed to the bacteria, the higher your risk of dental decay.
Avoid food and drink high in sugar (in general, high in sugar means more than 15g of sugar for every 100g of product) as these are a primary cause of decay. WHO recommend to keep sugar intake to less than 6 tsp per day for an adult (4 tsp for child). In order to avoid hidden sugar, it is also a good idea to read food labels and watch out for anything containing sucrose, fructose, maltose or glucose.
Frequency is more dangerous than quantity for decay, so if you like a sweet treat it’s better to have it with a meal than later in the day. But remember, keep all sugar intake as low as possible to avoid other health issues such as obesity, cardiac disease and diabetes.
Acid and Tooth erosion
Each time we eat, our mouth becomes more acidic, which can harm the enamel layer of our teeth leading to erosion and decay. It takes about 20 mins for this pH to return to normal so it’s important to give the mouth time to recover between meals. Do not brush straight after eating as this will lead to increased erosion.
What happens in your mouth when you eat or drink
Acidic foods and drinks can be just as harmful as sugary ones as the acid wear away the enamel of your teeth causing long-term damage and sensitivity.
Food and drink that are high in acid include: fizzy drink, citrus fruits and juices, vinegar, coffee, tomatoes etc. Some of these acidic foods can actually be quite healthy and need not be avoided altogether but do refrain from snacking on them often or keeping them in your mouth for long periods of time.
Sipping on fizzy drinks over the course of the day is a detrimental habit for your teeth and will cause erosion. If you must drink fizzy drinks, we recommend using a straw to avoid contact of the drink with the teeth.
Fruit: Friend or Foe?
Fruit is an important part of our diet as it provides many vitamins, minerals and fibre. However, fruit also contains a high level of sugar and acid. It is important to consider fruit as having a similar effect on your teeth as fizzy drinks or sugary sweets. In order to have the health benefits of fruit, and to avoid the negative effects of tooth wear and decay:
- Eat fruit as a dessert with meals
- Choose lower sugar/acid fruits such as berries
- Eat a piece of cheese with fruit to neutralise the acids
- Avoid snacking on fruit
- Avoid brushing for 1 hour after eating fruit
- Avoid fruit juice or smoothies
- Avoid sinking your teeth into orange segments
To help protect your teeth, in addition to brushing and flossing, drink plenty of water, especially after eating to help rinse food particles off your teeth and aim to have a varied and balanced diet. Avoid fruit juices, flavoured water, lemon in water, cordial, flavoured coffee and fizzy drinks.
Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help to increase saliva production which helps to rinse your mouth. Xylitol based chewing gum or mints are safe sugar-free alternatives.
Ideally it is best not to snack, but if you must, we recommend low-sugar low-acid foods. Healthy low-sugar choices include raw vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, peppers), nuts and cheese. Be cautious about foods that appear healthy such as juices, smoothies and flavoured milk as these contain a high level of sugar.
Smoking impacts negatively on our oral health along with our overall health. Tobacco use increases the risk of many cancers, respiratory disease, heart disease, stroke and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
In terms of your mouth, smoking increases the risk of developing:
- oral cancer (further increased by alcohol use)
- gum disease
- bad breath
- altered taste and smell
- slow healing
- rejection of dental implants
In order to reduce your risk of developing these conditions, we would recommend that you consider quitting smoking. The good news is, no matter how long you have smoked, the sooner you quit, the greater the reduction in risk levels.
Please talk to our team if you are contemplating quitting smoking. We are experienced in helping patients quit and are happy to support you as you try.